We are collecting stories on the site because we think it's important to have a way to people to add their voice to this issue by sharing their story. It's puts a human voice to the issues with using technology and automating systems and providing a blanket solution without providing staff and people that can right wrongs and help people when there is an error.
Please share your story with us if you have a Centrelink debt story that you believe has been issued in error or due to a fault in the system.
As frustrating as it is, persist with the appeals process, and know others are behind you.
Stories are 100% anonymous
I was ordered to pay over $14000 in June 2019 for debts from 2014-2015. I believe these figures are very incorrect.
The letters you receive do not give any information why and they just demand your hard working dollars that are already spent on taxes and HECS.
I got this debt a few years ago and they reckon I owed them money because at the time I was on parenting payment partnered n they said my partner earned 60000 in 2 years n I stated less... but my partner at that time was on sickness benefit for almost a year waiting for surgery so he couldn't have enered that.
Anxious, and getting no help from the people I speak with at centrelink.
Worried I won't be able to afford to pay bills if they win
A random phone call from the Centrelink compliance team in early February advised me that I had not reported my income while receiving Austudy in 2013 and 2014 which had resulted in a $4000 debt. This was a complete shock to me as I had always reported, and I had always been so careful to report the correct amounts.
I too have fallen victim to the Robo-debt Scam, with Centrelink attempting to recover $12,000 from me. This news came in the same week as losing my part-time job. I received the letter asking me to review my income for the periods 2014-19.
I returned home from UK after attending my dad's funeral to be inundated with emails adding if this debt.
It had been a really stressful time anyway but this nearly pushed me over the edge.
We're parents of three kids, two of them are autistic and the third has mild intellectual delay, we've been caring for them ( me and my wife) since 2014, never worked since then also we have our own medical issues. Our only income was the the government's benefits.
Wife and I incurred 2 debts each for working at the same 2 companies at the same time, for the same amount of pay.
Wife has never worked due to disability.
I apparently earned $1300 per week for 6 months at a stainless steel factory. Same with my wife.
Was on AusStudy, had baby No.5, got postnatal depression, fell behind in studies and failed to tell centrelink...
Recieved debt letter and robo call, 0 support 0 care, too depressed to fight ...started paying back debt, finished paying back this year. The end.
I found out I had a debt straight from the debt collector.
At first I thought it was a scam but then found out I had been getting letters from Centrelink to my very old address.
Original debt was $5,000 — I became physically sick for a few days, later my psychiatrist had to increase my antidepressants, which was triggered by this one letter.
This debt has come up from 2014 a time I was studying at TAFE and working very casually while finding permanent work. From what I can see I’ve reported everything I earned properly but they have overpaid me so I need to pay their error back.
The first I heard of my debt was from a debt collector. When I spoke to Centrelink they accused me of not responding to letters of notification, letters I never received. They said I had not received them because I had not updated my address (years after stopping payments).
My debt comprised of two issues. Part 1 being that I had incorrectly reported my income as my received income and not my pre-tax income. This was a mistake and I agreed to pay back the difference. Part 2 was an accusation that I had recieved over-payment as I had not reported my income for a period of several months.
Acute anxiety, dreaming of very hairy cows and tsunamis. Centrelink raised a weird debt against me in December 2018. They said I did not declare earnings when I was on Newstart Allowance for six weeks in 2014.
I had to move out my home to save money to pay this off. I work around 10 - 20 hours per week and now I am thinking about selling my car to pay it off!!
As a single parent of 3, it’s hard enough to survive from fortnight to fortnight in a low paying industry, let alone receiving a massive debt from Centrelink that dates back to 2011.
I have suffered depression and anxiety since I was 18 yrs old, I am now 49 and the added pressure of this debt is slowly killing me.
I already suffer from depression and anxiety, and am on medication for both, but today I was told by the Commonwealth ombudsmen that there is nothing they can do, despite admitting that it was clearly a structural issue.
In 2017 I got a letter saying I was overpayed Newstart allowance from 2 years prior to this, and that I needed to provide additional information to the debt recovery team.
I had an aortic dissection and anneyurism almost 14 years ago, I was advised I would never be able to work again by surgeons and my GP.
After a few years I did some adult study as I wanted to do something to contribute to society.
We always over estimated our family income and each year we would get an adjustment payment as they stated they under paid based on our tax returns. Now they are stating they over paid, this is very stressful and I want them to stop all future payments as how can I trust that what I am getting paid is correct moving forward.
I have been in and out of work for the last few years. I have, on a couple of occasions, claimed an extra payment when I first started a job to cover the cost of actually getting to work, purchasing appropriate clothing and lunch expenses. I knew I would be expected to pay this back, and was expecting a $2000 - $3000 dollar debt. Not $26,800!
When I received the letter from Centrelink 2017, I was asked to report my income for 2011-2012.
I did exactly that and their system informed me that because what I had reported did not match their ATO data I had to call Centrelink many times and the response i got was blaming the ATO that to discuss. Their beating behind the bush.
I received a $1000 student start up loan and youth allowance payment during 3 months of 2016 while I was at university.
I now have to pay over $300 a month to Centrelink over a debt caused by their administration. It has made me upset, anxious and distraught at times.